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Obama sends condolences to tornado victims, says 'your country will be there to help'

U.S. President Barack Obama looks towards Press Secretary Jay Carney during a joint news conference with Philippines President Benigno Aquino III at Malacanang Palace in Manila, the Philippines, Monday, April 28, 2014. President Obama said a 10-year agreement signed Monday to give the U.S military greater access to Philippine bases will help promote regional security, improve armed forces training and shorten response times to humanitarian crises, including natural disasters. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

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U.S. President Barack Obama looks towards Press Secretary Jay Carney during a joint news conference with Philippines President Benigno Aquino III at Malacanang Palace in Manila, the Philippines, Monday, April 28, 2014. President Obama said a 10-year agreement signed Monday to give the U.S military greater access to Philippine bases will help promote regional security, improve armed forces training and shorten response times to humanitarian crises, including natural disasters. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

MANILA, Philippines - President Barack Obama is sending his deepest condolences to those affected by a deadly tornado that ripped through Arkansas and has directed federal resources to the area.

The White House said Obama is sending Craig Fugate, the Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator, to Arkansas "to ensure the appropriate federal resources are being brought to bear to support the state and local efforts."

Obama telephoned Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe to get an update on the situation and to see if other federal resources were needed. The president also praised the heroic efforts of first responders and neighbours.

A broad tornado killed at least 16 when it sliced through suburbs in Arkansas on Sunday at the start of the U.S. tornado season. Another person died in Oklahoma.

Obama spoke at a joint news conference with Philippine President Benigno Aquino while travelling in Asia. He said people hit by the disaster should know that "your country will be there to help you recover and rebuild, as long as it takes."

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